I am Yajush Chaturvedi, a graduate of Delhi university and yet another defence aspirant trying to build upon his personality with all and any resources available and I would say I’ve been greatly fortunate to get in touch with Nehru sir amidst my journey. Although I rarely write book reviews; when I was presented with the opportunity to write on Col Nehru’s “Practical guide to become an officer” I was elated and I agreed to it in a heartbeat. This is mostly because the book has almost been a life-changing phenomenon for me in many ways and has given me a lot to take away. I find myself carrying it around wherever I go and recommending it to anyone I wish well for. I strongly feel that Col Nehru’s practical guide is not another self-help book you will find in the bookstore which is repetitive and eventually unhelpful. In the following blog, I am only going to convey what I tell my friends about the book but in a little more detail.
As they say, “common sense is not so common these days”, The foremost feature of the book in my opinion is to introduce you to the value of common sense in life and give you a blunt assessment of how much you already possess and need to build ahead. Having interacted with Col Nehru so much, I have realised each time that he approaches life with logic and pure pragmatism. As should be the case for anyone, Col Nehru in his book time and again acknowledges how the Indian society is webbed in so many illogical and orthodox ways of life deterring especially the youth to achieve their desired goals and being an obstruction for them to grow and become competent individuals. In his essays, he articulately reinforces how easy and straight life is actually and how society is convoluted rather.
Style of Essays
Although the book has a good blend of essays on all three namely: personality enhancement, SSB guidance and Fitness, I was highly intrigued by the personality enhancement essays. This was because the book answered my age-old queries I was trying to seek answers for in so many self-help books for so long and here I found myself suddenly getting answers and practical solutions to all of them that too in such an accessible language.
The essays are written in a very crisp manner, chapters rarely exceed 2-3 pages and for this fast-paced generation of ours where attention span is shorter, the book delivers highly complex and sophisticated knowledge in a very crisp and clear manner so much so that I found myself almost reading through all the chapters in a single go. The length of the essays almost resembles the popular “reels culture” of today.
There is a chapter in the book where Nehru sir has stated “the Scarcity mindset” and to its opposite “the abundance mindset”, although the terms are not new, they still came as a revelation when put in the Indian youth’s context. It introduced me to just how deeply sir has evaluated the youth he had interviewed in the span of his illustrious career as an interviewing officer and Deputy commandant of SSB boards and while interacting with Defence aspirants coming to him for guidance.
Personally, the practical guide has become one of my favourite reads of all time. I have over the time become an avid non-fiction reader and time and again I have expressed to Col. Nehru how underrated his book is in my opinion for which he had always amicably and humbly thanked me for. The best part is, I have recommended the book to not only those aspiring to join the armed forces but also to all the people I wish to see becoming better human beings in their lives. I am a big fan of people who wear their hearts on their sleeves and are blunt with every word, the book’s no-nonsense and straight-to-the-point style of dialogue is not planned in my opinion, I feel it is just how Col. Nehru operates in his life. Sir had just poured all the knowledge regarding personality development, Fitness and SSB he had acquired in the course of his entire life so far in a really comprehensive manner which is also greatly accessible and I feel it has been possible only because he was always sure of whatever he was saying. A very famous and legendary writer Mr Javed Akhtar whom I greatly admire corroborates this by saying “writing in complex language is easy but to write it simply and crisply is tough because then you need to be one hundred percent sure of what you want to convey exactly”.
On that note, I would like to say this blog is a small token of appreciation from my end to Col. Nehru for helping me evoke all the self-confidence and self-reliance in myself. I genuinely hope more people pick up this book, especially in my country and they can take away a great deal of wisdom imparted in it. Thank you and Jai Hind to all those reading!
–BY YAJUSH CHATURVEDI